Industrialisation for the nexty fifty
Any talk of industrialisation of Goa immediately invites opposition. It is generally held that industrialisation destroys environment and that Goa is too gifted and beautiful to be industrialised.The tragedy of Goa is the lack of a lobby for industry within government and outside government even after fifty years of liberation. This may be because the Goan society has not thrown up industrialists. Traditionally and culturally, ours is a society of traders dabbling in services sector and mining. Of the remaining, the singular preference of the majority would be to retire as officials under government (empregado) or migrate overseas.
Of late, we witness participation in real estate and tourism related areas. Hence, it is not a surprise that we have the mining lobby, real estate lobby and the environmentalists. Another conglomeration that prefers to be termed as the “lovers” of Goa would form themselves into “no-development” lobbyists. This may explain the adolescence state of industry in Goa despite leading in per capita income and human development index.
The medium and large working industrial units in Goa could be counted on finger tips. We have a fair quantitative base of small-scale industry, of which some are sick and many are prone to sickness. Though, we have woven a network of industrial estates for accelerating development, barring a few industrial units of value in terms of employment for locals, there is a battery of ‘sweated’ industries almost dumped in the industrial estates totally dependent on unskilled labour from U.P., Bihar and drought stricken areas of Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Undoubtedly, industrialisation needs to be taken very seriously in the years to come. Considering the natural endowments of Goa, the pressure on the scarce land resource, the white-collar job preferences of the local youth, the need to maintain the balance between industry and environment and positively promote a pollution-free industry, Goa needs to be selective.
There are viable, sustainable and balancing options. The State should focus on knowledge industry and emerge as a premier destination for higher education in all sunrise areas, research and pursuit of science largely through private sector investment.The State has the human potential and rich cultural trappings for the nurture and growth of media, communications and entertainment industry. An initial government support to provide the big-push including integration with tourism has to be worked out. Pharmaceuticals, bio-technology, food processing and information technology are ideal for the tiny State caught between environmental preservation and industrialisation. I also strongly argue for the case to “industrialise” agriculture, horticulture and floriculture and for converting the same into big commercial activity. Destruction of agriculture and the failure to revive despite the natural advantage in the hinterlands would be an irreversible liability for Goa’s future.
If in the late years of the first fifty, there has been widespread immigration into Goa due to opportunities in real estate, mining and political patronage to power guzzling industrial units; the challenge of wholesale migration of Goan educated youth in the neighbouring States has commenced from the dawn of the post-fifty years. Industry focus is therefore an inevitable choice if we have to insure that our productive youth will stay tied to the soil of Goa, which many leave involuntarily.
As I said earlier, Goa does not have a tradition of industrial culture. The matters are compounded for the available local enterprise by the speed breakers installed by the government commencing from licensing, statutory clearances and allotment of industrial plots. Industrial estates are projected as personal fiefdoms of politicians. The entire government stands discredited and disgraced in the eyes of investors. On the other hand, the politicians have also installed escalators for any industrial land grabber and industrial estate plot banker too has a field day. This has shunned good investors from entering Goa and there is investor tiredness and entrepreneurship fatigue working to Goa’s disadvantage.
It would augur well for the next fifty years for Goa, if at least a few of the resourceful traditional families and business houses dominating Goa’s mining since Portuguese days, make commitment of investment in industry on their own or through joint enterprise with outside investors. All the neighbouring States proudly announce the names of their leading industrialists who pioneer industrial development in their States and rotate their capital in their soil with a great sense of honour and belonging. The Goa Chamber of Commerce, the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association and the Government of Goa should work together to switch the gear to harness this as the gift for the 50th year to Goa. Finally,Goa and its soil which has fostered and breast fed these businesses,like the mother without expectation, deserves it as she celebrates the Golden Jubilee.
Industrialization of agriculture should be converted into a large-scale commercial activity. Destruction of agriculture and the failure to revive despite the natural advantage in the hinterlands would be an irreversible liability for Goa’s future.
Industry focus is an inevitable choice if we have to insure that our productive youth will stay tied to the soil of Goa, which many leave involuntarily. Pharmaceuticals, bio-technology, food processing and IT are ideal for a State caught between environmental preservation and industrialisation.